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With new developments continuing to emerge on a daily basis, your corporate affairs team is facing a distinct challenge — namely how to manage, interpret, and respond to the changes occurring in a rapidly shifting policy environment — all while demonstrating the value of their efforts. In this setting, collaborating with stakeholders is essential to help your team take advantage of opportunities and anticipate issues before they arise — which is why it pays to proactively build out a strategic and intentional stakeholder relations plan. 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How Stakeholder Relations Helps You Stay One Step Ahead of the Pharma Policy Landscape

How Stakeholder Relations Helps You Stay One Step Ahead of the Pharma Policy Landscape

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the healthcare policy landscape on a global scale. With new developments continuing to emerge on a daily basis, your corporate affairs team is facing a distinct challenge — namely how to manage, interpret, and respond to the changes occurring in a rapidly shifting policy environment — all while demonstrating the value of their efforts.

In this setting, collaborating with stakeholders is essential to help your team take advantage of opportunities and anticipate issues before they arise — which is why it pays to proactively build out a strategic and intentional stakeholder relations plan. Increase the impact of your global corporate affairs team’s stakeholder engagement activities with our best practices in three key areas:

Consistency Is Key: Mapping Stakeholders for a Personalized Approach That Builds Trust

Corporate affairs departments act as a linchpin in maintaining vital information flows with external parties across geographies — including patient advocacy groups, healthcare associations, regulators, and policymakers — but in a fast-evolving environment it can be tricky to keep a consistent overview of the organizations that matter to you. And the volume and frequency of interactions with these groups has only increased during the COVID health crisis.

Our recommendation? Take the time to map your stakeholders in a clear, structured way. This will help you visualize and evaluate your relationships with the people and organizations who have a stake in your success, so you can ensure that you can lean on the right people at the right time — and provide them with relevant and timely information.

Here are some techniques you might consider:

Map By Issue

Your stakeholders all have their own set of priority topics that influence their areas of activity. By sorting your contacts into groups based on the issues they care about, you can ensure that your communication towards each group is tailored to their needs. As a result, you can build a solid partnership with these stakeholders by sending only the most valuable insights for them.

For example, if your organization is working to drive healthcare system reform, you may tag some key stakeholders as follows:

  • Policymakers: Overall system infrastructure; Financing care
  • Patient advocacy groups: Improving patients’ access to care
  • Healthcare professionals’ associations: Ensuring quality care; Medical staff working conditions

Map By Level of Influence

Consider the ability of each contact to move the needle on your priority issues. How close are they to the end decision-makers? With this information in mind, you can map out where you should concentrate your efforts and who you could partner with.

Taking the example of driving healthcare system reform again: policymakers are highly influential for the end goal, as they have the power to implement changes to the overall care infrastructure in your jurisdiction. So, by then mapping out the players — such as patient advocacy groups — who hold strong relationships with policymakers, you can identify suitable organizations that you could partner with to help achieve your advocacy goal.

Map In a Tiered System

Sort your stakeholders into three tiers to denote their current level of engagement and involvement with your organization — Tier 1 being the most engaged, Tier 3 being the least. Identify the players who you would like to strengthen your relationship with and, over time, evaluate how your engagement efforts are impacting this.

For example, you may place a healthcare professionals’ organization in Tier 2. You believe that proactively providing them with training on the newest treatment options in their disease area may improve the relationship, moving them to Tier 1. Take regular check-ins — either monthly or quarterly — to assess your success and to adjust your strategy if needed to achieve your Tier 1 goal.

Whatever your chosen stakeholder mapping method, make sure to systematically add your contact’s details to your stakeholder database after a new interaction. From there, you can personalize their profile with custom insights in line with your chosen mapping approach — such as their policy areas of interest, their current level of engagement with your organization, and more. In doing so, you build up a full picture of the landscape you’re operating in, resulting in tailored, meaningful engagement efforts further down the line.

Best practice: Strengthen your stakeholder mapping with Quorum’s comprehensive social media monitoring. Set up custom, real-time alerts based on the keywords that matter to your organization — so you can easily keep a pulse on the policymakers discussing your priority issues.

Making An Impact: Leveraging Digital Stakeholder Engagement

The next step to build on your mapping is laying out an intentional and thoughtful approach to nurturing those relationships. In a hybrid working world where balancing in-person and virtual interactions has become the norm, how can you leverage your digital engagement toolbox to supplement your face-to-face meetings and further strengthen your stakeholder relations?

One way involves using specialized public affairs software to take your outreach strategy to the next level. With Outbox, Quorum’s integrated email tool, you can develop pre-set email templates with tailored messaging adapted to your different stakeholder groups — so you can move faster by sending personalized communications en masse. For example, you can ensure that your outreach to healthcare professionals presents the science on product safety, efficacy, and correct use — ensuring that medical staff have the facts they need for their day-to-day. You can then adapt your template for patient advocacy groups — translating the science into accessible, patient-centered messaging which outlines how your product is expected to improve outcomes and quality of life.

Best practice: Use Quorum Outbox to evaluate how your approach is resonating with your key contacts: with native analytics including open rates and click rates of your emails, you have clear visibility on the impact of your strategy.

Proving Value: Aligning Stakeholder Strategies with Critical Business Priorities

Maintaining relationships with internal stakeholders — covering business areas such as market access, regulatory affairs, and legal — is also a key part of your corporate affairs team’s day-to-day activities. In this setting, your team acts as a conduit to help shape a policy environment which supports business objectives and allows patients to receive new treatments faster than ever before. The challenge, however, can lie in demonstrating the value of your team’s work to internal stakeholders in a tangible way.

With Quorum Dashboards, reporting on your work has never been simpler. Dashboards are auto-updating reports which translate your efforts into impact with clear, data-backed visuals. They are completely customizable, so you can track the metrics that matter to you — whether that’s the number of interactions with elected officials in various geographies, or the evolution in sentiment of your team’s stakeholder meetings over the quarter. In a matter of clicks, Dashboards allow you to show directors and C-Suite exactly how your team is moving the needle.

Best practice: Define a regular cadence to report on your efforts — monthly or quarterly, for example. This creates space for your team to assess their progress, align with relevant internal stakeholders, and proactively seize opportunities to increase impact.

Conclusion

In a world where healthcare policy and regulation is evolving quicker than ever before, your pharmaceutical corporate affairs team needs digital solutions to manage stakeholder relationships and keep pace with external developments. Consider adding software like Quorum to your corporate affairs toolbox to help your team deliver results and measure impact.

To learn how Quorum can support your corporate affairs team